[OPE-L:8718] fascism and the war in Iraq

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Mon Apr 07 2003 - 09:48:33 EDT

Re: [OPE-L:8714] Re: a case against the war in IraqRe Ian's [8715]:

> I use the term 'fascist' for an organised repressive dictatorship of the bourgeoisie with strong elements of state organised capitalism. Although I haven't made a detailed study of Iraq, the Ba'ath party looks like a fascist party, with an organised repression of any independent working class activity, elements of 'national socialism, and imperial aspirations, as shown in its agression against Kuwait.  I am prepared to be surprised on this, though. <

One could argue (although I am not going to argue this)  that _any_ capitalist state 
represents "the organized repressive dictatorship of the bourgeoisie"  (see, for
example, Marx's reference to the "dictatorship of the proletariat" in contrast to
the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie").  To have any real meaning, though, fascism
must be defined in a historically specific way so as to distinguish it from your 
run-of-the-mill dictatorship under capitalism. 

To begin with, fascism is a right-wing reactionary movement.   The Ba'ath Party in
Iraq is neither revolutionary nor progressive, but neither is it -- ideologically or
in actuality -- an extreme right-wing political movement.  

Fascism is also essentially and virulently anti-Left and counter-revolutionary. Indeed,
the fear of a socialist revolution has been a hallmark of fascist movements.  This does
not describe well the particular historical context in which the Ba'ath Party came to 
power or its political ideology.

Fascism, for it to come to power,  must be a mass movement.  The Ba'ath Party
did not come to power nor does it remain in power through a mass movement.

Fascism came to power in advanced capitalist and imperialist nations.  Iraq is

Yes, the current Iraqi government is nationalist and repressive, but this does not
make it fascist.   I think we also have to distinguish between nationalism in an
imperialized nation like Iraq and nationalism in an imperialist nation.  

The Iraqi government has indeed repressed independent working-class activity, 
but so have many other (non-fascist) bourgeois governments in the world.  

As for the invasion of Kuwait, one _could_ view it as an act of aggression.  _Or_,
one could recognize the role of British imperialism and large transnational oil
corporations in establishing the artificial 'nation' of Kuwait and also recognize
that there is at least some historical basis for believing that what is now Kuwait
is part of Iraq.  I think that the invasion of Kuwait in 1991 was  not so dissimilar 
to the "invasion" of the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands by Argentina.   Unlike fascist 
movements which had global aspirations of power, the military objectives of 
the Argentinean and Iraqi governments were more limited in nature.  And, in both 
Argentina and Iraq, the roots of the conflict can be traced to the history of 

In conclusion, I do _NOT_ think that the government of Saddam Hussein can
be said to be fascist.  Indeed, I think that's a rather dangerous position to take
since -- although the point of your essay was to oppose the war -- *if* one takes
the position that there is fascism in Iraq and *if* one takes the position that 
fascism must at all costs be crushed, *then* one  would be able to argue (just
like the governments of the US and UK argue) that their armies are "liberating"
the people of Iraq rather than invading a nation.  

We _should_ be discussing the danger of fascism today.  Yet, that danger
is most apparent in the US -- where in my view we are seeing the beginnings
of an incipient fascist movement -- rather than Iraq.    Fascism is also more
of a danger in nations such as France, Germany, and Russia (where there are
already significant neo-fascist political forces) than Iraq.

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Apr 09 2003 - 00:00:00 EDT